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MERIONETHSHIRE DEFIES THE GOVERNMENT. "Fight to a Finish." The Merioneth Education Committee held a meeting at Bala last week and considered corre- spondence from the Board of Education insisting upon the Committee meeting the claims put forward by the managers of the several Voluntary schools of the county. There was a full attend- ance. The most important correspondence was the following :— THE BOARD OF EDUCATION'S DEMANDS. February 9th, 1905.-10 reply to your letter of the 4th inst., I am to point out that no in- formation is contained therein as to when the next meeting of your Committee will take place or when they will be prepared to reply to the Board with reference to the complaints of the managers of Voluntary schools which have been forwarded to them. The Board cannot consent to have the matter longer deferred, and must request that the local education authority do reply within fourteen days, stating definitely what steps they propose to take to meet the claims put forward by the managers of the schools concerned. In default of a satisfactory reply within the time limit mentioned the Board will be compelled to consider what steps they will themselves have to adopt in the matter." "February 18th.—In further reply to your letter of the loth of February I am directed to state that the Board of Education will expect to receive immediately after the meeting of your Committee on the 2nd of March a complete and satisfactory reply with reference to the claims of the managers of the Voluntary schools in respect of expenses which they allege they have incurred by reason of the failure of the local education authority adequately to maintain their schools. I am at the same time to inform your Committee that the Board are taking steps to investigate the claims in question in order to be in a position to take action on their own account should the reply promised by your Committee be delayed or appear unsatisfactory. The Board desire again to observe in accord- ance with their statement in previous letters that they will be prepared at once upon a settle- ment of the claims in question to support the local education authority in any reasonable demands they may have made for the improve- ment of the buildings of any school concerned." The Chairman said the duty now before the Committee was to formulate a reply to those communications. The Board of Education de- clined to entertain the question of improvements to Voluntary schools until the arrears had accumulated in respect of the thirteen months which elapsed before the Committee took up the management of those schools. The policy the County Education Committee had taken all along was against rate-aid to schools not under full public control, and where religious tests on teachers were imposed This was the position taken up, and he did not think they would recede from it. THE COMMITTEE'S REPLY. Mr. Osmond Williams, M.P., moved the following resolution That this Committee are of the opinion that the Board of Education has no right to call upon them to discharge any obligation under the Education Act of 1902 in respect of non-provided schools, inasmuch as the Act makes it a condition precedent to the duty to maintain the schools that the schools shall be put in such a state of repair as the Committee may deem reasonable." Alluding to the conferences which he said had taken place recently in the precincts of Westminster, Mr. Williams said that Mr. Haydn Jones (secretary) and he had made it clear that Merioneth would fight, and that they could take this as the basis of the campaign. On Tuesday they met an influential deputation of the Free Church Council of England, who assured them that Merioneth would get not only the moral but the substantial financial support of the English Free Churches. When the crucial time came Merioneth must stand as firmly as one of her mountains. It would be a big fight, and a fight to the finish. They would have to stand up courageously for their principles, consciences, and convictions. He firmly believed in the staunchness of his countrymen, and that they would stand for their just rights as unflinchingly as did their brave patriotic forefathers. They were fighting to secure for their children not only efficient but untrammelled equipment for the battlefield of life. Mr. John Parry seconded and Dr. John Jones supported in an impassioned speech which roused the meeting to a pitch of great enthusiasm. There was no doubt, he said, that they would have to make sacrifices, but they were fighting for freedom. Mr. Rhydwen Parry, supporting, said: Let the Government do their worst, Nonconformist Merioneth will do its best. Time will show that Merioneth's best will be better than the Govern- ment's best. Speeches by Mr. Lloyd Owen and Alderman Haydn Jones, hon. secretary to the Committee, followed. The secretary said the situation was undoubtedly one of gravity. Wales was entering upon an important struggle, and Merioneth was to be the battleground. The forces of all Wales would be arrayed, but Merioneth was the battleground, and this was due to the absolutely straight line pursued by Merioneth all along- no control, no rate. There were twenty-four non-provided schools in the county and 1,510 children on the books. Of 736 pupils at Voluntary schools, 5x3 were Nonconformist children. There was still one way out of the difficulty. He had suggested it before. Let the managers of the Voluntary schools transfer the management to the (bounty Education Com- mittee on trial for one or two years to see whether the Committee would deal fairly. If at the end of that term they were not satisfied they could take back the management, but he prophesied that they would be more than satisfied. Concluding, he said it would be a fight to a finish. Merioneth was not going to take things lying down. They 'would fight it out, and fight to a victory. The resolution was carried amid cheers, only the Hon. C. H. Wynn, who was for sending a definite reply, voting against. Respecting the above the JlfancheJter Guardian of last Tuesday contained the following :— The Education Department have received the Merionethshire reply to the communication addressed to the Education Committee of that county demanding immediate administration of the AI t of 1902 in respect of the Voluntary schools, and I am informed on the best authority that the answer is considered not at all satis- factory. On the other hand, there is reason to believe that the Department is not even now disposed to bring its punitive resources into action, and the fight may be delayed. The fact is that ovying to the uncertain tenure of the Government the hands of the Department are to a great extent paralysed, and, apart from other possible means of settling the difficulty, I shall not be surprised if the authorities in Whitehall will, at least for a time, allow the matter to slide. Mr. Samuel Smith, having failed to find an opportunity to discuss Indian affairs in the debate on the Address, on Wednesday asked Mr. Balfour if he will grant an early opportunity for a full discussion on the question."



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